Is this where American education is headed? Is this the kind of crazy “critical thinking” assignment we can expect in our grade school classrooms?
A school district in California — Rialto Unified in San Bernadino County — is being forced to revise an eighth-grade assignment that asked students to write an essay on whether the Holocaust was fact or fiction. According to news reports, the original assignment given to the students was to consider “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”
The 18-page assignment instructions included three sources that students were told to use, including one that stated gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.
From the San Bernadino Sun, here’s an excerpt included in the offensive assignment — you won’t believe what you’re reading here (or, given the controversy over Common Core educational standards, you just might):
“With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,” states the source, which is a attributed to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au. “In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”
According to a spokesperson, the school district’s Interim Superintendent, Mohammad Z. Islam, was set to talk with administrators to “assure that any references to the holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken on any current or future Argumentative Research assignments.”
District officials who tried to defend the assignment pointed to Common Core standards as its basis. The Common Core State Standards include writing standards that seek to have students make arguments and defend their answers based on texts they have read, among other goals.